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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  February 9, 2018 6:30pm-7:01pm EST

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up next, nbc "nightly news" with lester holt in south korea. we'll see you tonight after the opening ceremony. tonight the surprise drama and the spectacular opening ceremony here in pyeongchang. amid all the olympic pomp and pageantry, the american delegation, led by vice president pence, seated right in front of the north koreans including kim jong-un's sister. and our exclusive conversation with the vice president. it's already making headlines on north korea and the white house scandal exploding back home. president trump defending his former top aide. he's accused of physically abusing his two ex-wives. >> says he's innocent, and i think you have to remember that. >> but amid the fallout, sources tell nbc news the president is now musing about replacing his embattled chief of staff. ten more children
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have died in this flu epidemic, getting worse. tonight tips for stopping the spread to your kids. and the american golden girl from sochi. looking to dominate again. >> yes, i'm ready! want to go, want to go now. >> mikaela shiffrin on the secrets to olympic glory. this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. good evening from pyeongchang, south korea, where the olympic flame burns brightly as we head into the first weekend of competition of the 2018 winter games. the spectacular opening ceremony here, in addition to the pomp, pageantry and excitement is also being talked about for some truly eye-opening moments in the stands, where vice president pence practically came face-to-face with the sister of north korea's kim jong-un. a chilly reminder of the nuclear standoff even as north and south korea embrace an olympic detente. and athletes from around the u.s. and the world fix their hopes and dreams on
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olympic glory. nbc's stephanie gosk starts us off tonight. ♪ >> reporter: it was a celebration of south korea's remarkable modern-day transformation and its history. 1200 performers together with a high-tech light show wowed the opening ceremony crowd. but the seating arrangement took many by surprise. vice president mike pence and his wife karen sitting right in front of the north korean delegation. kim jong-un's sister, kim yo-jong, just feet away. she shook hands with the south korean president in a historic moment. but there was no interaction between the north koreans and pence. although some events began earlier. >> that's so rad! >> reporter: u.s. figure skating champion nathan chen probably wishes they hadn't. >> wow. >> reporter: in his olympic debut, the 18-year-old phenom
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struggled with his signature jumps. >> i think it was a little bit in my head and just let that get the best of me in the program. >> reporter: chen will have another shot next week. skier lindsey vonn with dog lucy at her side has waited eight years to come back to the olympics, after an injury kept her out of the sochi games. this time she brings the memory of her grandfather who served in the korean war and died just last year. >> i know that he's going to help me, and i'm going to win for him. >> reporter: with the first gold medals to be awarded tomorrow, the u.s. olympic committee spent the majority of today's press conference talking about the scandal surrounding former gymnastics doctor larry nassar, addressing the victims directly. >> the olympic system failed you, and we are so incredibly sorry. >> reporter: but by the close of opening ceremony tonight, the focus was back on the games. lester, when team usa made its way into the
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stadium, kim jong-un's sister could be seen scowling behind the pences as they stood and clapped. they then remained in their seats for the remainder of the parade even while the north and south korean teams came in jointly and the korean leadership around the pences stood and cheered. >> all right, stephanie gosk, thank you. just hours before mike pence's encounter with kim jong-un's sister, the vice president sat down with me exclusively and delivered a strong message to north korea. in a wide ranging conversation, we discussed south korea's recent engagement with the north as well as issues at home including the mueller investigation and the controversy surrounding former white house aide rob porter. here's some of what he had to say. i was in north korea a few weeks ago and sat as close as we are with a senior official there who said very frankly the united states, the world has to understand that we are now a nuclear power and has to treat us accordingly. what do you think when you hear that kind of resolute statement? >> well, we continue
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to hear that rhetoric. and that's all the more reason why president trump and our allies are absolutely determined to continue to bring pressure on that regime. the world has agreed that we need a nuclear-free korean peninsula. and we're going to continue to put all the pressure to bear economically and diplomatically while preserving all of our military options to see that that happens. >> let's talk about the military options. did that come up in your conversation with president moon? has he spesktcally said please don't launch a military strike? >> president trump and our allies in the region have agreed to delay our military exercises until after the olympics, but we're going to make it crystal clear that our military, the japanese self-defense forces, our allies here in south korea, all of our allies across the region are fully prepared. >> military options? >> to defend our nations and to take what action is necessary to defend our homeland. >> the vice president comes to south korea
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with a guest, the father of otto warmbier, the american college student who died days after his release from a north korean prison. what do you want the north koreans to see as they look across and see the two of you? what do you want the world to see? >> we want to world to see that not only is north korea guilty of military provocations but also north korea has one of the worst records on human rights in the world today. and the fate of otto warmbier is just one of literally hundreds of thousands of stories in recent years of people that have been imprisoned and tortured and killed by this regime. we just are simply determined to make sure that even in the midst of the powerful background and idealism of the olympics, that the world is also reminded of the truth about north korea. >> we also asked about the mueller investigation. will the president, if requested, agree to an interview? would you suggest that he sit down and speak
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with mueller's office and move this thing toward a conclusion? >> you know, our administration has been fully cooperating from the outset. my only advice to the president is to listen to his counselors, listen to his attorneys and do what he does every day, lester, and that is stay focused on the issues most important to the american people. >> while pence is here, there's that growing controversy in washington over abuse allegations against former white house aide rob porter and reports chief of staff john kelly may have known about them for months. are you concerned that he may have had this knowledge and didn't act on it? >> i was appalled when i learned of the allegations against rob porter. the time he resigned was when i first became aware of the allegations of domestic abuse, and there's no tolerance in this white house and no place in america for domestic abuse. that being said, i think the white house has acknowledged that
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they could have handled it better. lester, when i return to washington, d.c., i'm going to look into the matter, and i'll share my counsel with the president directly. >> and what about the chief of staff? >> as i said, i think the white house has acknowledged they could have handled it better. >> we heard no explicit vote of confidence there for white house chief of staff kel frly from the vice president whose response to the rob porter scandal was different from the reaction from president trump who broke his silence and came to the defense of his former top aide. we get more now from nbc news chief white house correspondent hallie jackson. >> reporter: for the first time -- >> well, we wish him well. he worked very hard. >> reporter: president trump's speaking publicly about former top aide rob porter who resigned after allegations of domestic violence became public. >> it was very sad when we heard about it. certainly he's also very sad now. he also, as you probably know, he says he's innocent, and i think you have to
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remember that. >> reporter: but tonight new concerns about who knew what when about the accusations against porter. chief of staff john kelly late tonight with nbc news confirming he'd known for three months about an investigation. >> in november, i get an update on some of the investigations. and the update was that there was some things that needed to be looked into. literally, that was it. >> can you clarify to us exactly -- there's been a lot of reporting about the timeline and when you found out. >> tuesday night. >> you found tuesday night? >> that the accusation were true. 40 minutes later he was gone. >> reporter: that's the same night the white house released a statement from kelly lavishing praise on porter, calling him a man of true integrity. that timeline creating questions of credibility. now multiple sources close to the president tell nbc news donald trump is frustrated with his chief of staff for mishandling the porter scandal, even musing about possible replacements including budget head
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mick mulvaney. the president did not go that far. >> he said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent. >> reporter: no mention there from president trump of the women who accused porter of physical and verbal abuse, like jenny willoughby, who was interviewed by the fbi, worried her ex-husband could be vulnerable to blackmail. >> he was curious what i was going to say. what are you going to tell them? i told him, i'm going to tell them the truth. >> reporter: john kelly tonight is denying reports that he offered to resign, telling nbc news twice that is not the case. but i'm told by a source close to the chief of staff that he is feeling irritated that he continues to be dogged by fallout from this porter scandal. lester? >> hallie jackson at the white house, thank you. while all that continues to unfold the government is once again open for business after the second shutdown of the year ended just hours after it began overnight. president trump signed a bipartisan $400 billion deal to fund the government for the next two years after congress passed it in
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the wee hours of the morning. the bill is set to balloon the deficit over a trillion dollars. another wild day on wall street. volatile swings ending with a late rally just before the closing bell. the dow finished up 330 points, though even with today's gains, the market has still posted the worst week in about two years. we turn our attention once again here to pyeongchang and one of the brightest stars of team usa. she's already an olympic gold medalist. she took care of that in sochi, but now mikaela shiffrin is looking to make her mark in several events here and leave no question that she's one of the best skiers ever to compete. mikaela shiffrin is a once in a generation talent, the best technical skier in the world. >> you're seeing the best slalom skier not only this year but in history. >> the secret to the 22-year-old's success -- unbelievable focus that extends from her training to the
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starting gate. >> i take myself to a completely other place than this race. and then, once i feel like i've completely cleared my head, then i let myself come back to it. and then they're like, ready, go. then i'm like, yes, i'm ready! let me go. let me go now. >> she grew up in colorado on skis at age 2. >> mikaela's doing her post olympics ice skating performance. >> there you go! >> by 16, mikaela was ready for the world cup circuit. her mom, eileen, put her nursing career on hold to join her daughter's coaching team. >> she's 100% all-in. and it's the biggest sacrifice that a parent can make. >> finding that balance between coach and mom isn't always easy. >> mikaela is such a nice kid, and all of her coaches historically have never wanted to say what really probably needed to be said. i will just go up to her and say, what are you doing? and sometimes i think
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the other coaches are like, phew, glad i didn't have to be the one to do that. >> slalom is mikaela's specialty. >> she's an absolute control to the finish. >> she took home gold in the event in the sochi olympics, the youngest winner ever. >> everybody asked me where my medal is. and everybody always guesses that it's in my sock drawer. but it's not. it's in my sports bra drawer. >> she's refreshingly lindsey vonn, by comparison, had just seven at mikaela's age. >> there's more goals to be set. ♪ walking in a straight line ♪ >> she knows some goals are more far-fetched than others. >> i just play alone and imagine a sea of millions of people listening to me, cheering. go, mikaela! we love you! >> with good humor, mikaela is always
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looking for ways to improve, including learning german, spoken in so many of the countries where she competes. at home she shows off her unicycle talents, a skill she learned as a child to help her balance and become a better athlete. now, she's a medal threat in four events and ready to spin her goals into gold. mikaela could actually compete in as many as six events here in pyeongchang. and she'll be the flash going down one of these mountains around us. still ahead, deadly emergency. new alert tonight from the cdc. flu season is still on the rise and taking a deadly toll on children across america. also, their journey has taken them from the tks heat to the polar chill of pyeongchang to make olym ♪ life goes on, yes, life goes on... ♪ i've always wanted to share a special moment with my mom. i think surprising her with a night ski trip would just be
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on this ongoing flu emergency back home. federal health officials said today another ten children have died. that brings the total now to 63. and hospitalizations are soaring. the highest in a decade. nbc news medical correspondent dr. john torres has our report. >> reporter: hey, bromley, how are you doing? how are you feeling? this 2-year-old sent home from day care with a fever. his parents now fearing the worst. >> you hear these tragic stories where children aren't feeling too well, they take something, go to bed and it doesn't have a good ending. so we want to make sure we do everything we can as parents. >> reporter: one of those tragedies 14-year-old gabriela who died this week in southern california. 63 children have died this season compared to 20 last year at this time. >> the last severe season that we had, 56,000 americans died from influenza. we may be on track to reach or even exceed that level. >> reporter: doctor
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visits are already as high as the peak of the 2009 pandemic. new jersey pediatrician dr. patel out of flu shots and running low on rapid tests. now urging parents. >> if your child is sick, please keep them home. don't send them to school. >> reporter: her other tips, sneeze down your shirt to contain the germs and parents should kiss their children on the head rather than the face where the virus is easily spread. tonight in denver, 10-year-old kiana richardson who was on life support for nearly a week is now turning the corner. >> if we're learning anything this year, it's that this flu is nothing like we've ever seen. >> reporter: the cdc says at this rate 34 million people could get the flu this season. dr. john torres, nbc news, new jersey. we have a lot more to tell you about here tonight. coming up, massive pile-up. danger on the roadways as a major winter storm blasts millions. and something customers love about an iconic american sfx: muffled whistle text alert.
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it has certainly been one of those winters. a season of seemingly never-ending storms and another one is blanketing a big part of the country making a mess in michigan. part of i-94 was blocked near kalamazoo after a crash involving dozens of cars, trucks and tractor trailers during a heavy snowfall. no one was killed in the pile-ups. at o'hare hundreds of flight cancellations and more snow on the way over the weekend. a big change announced by an iconic american brand. l.l. bean is doing away with its lifetime return policy indicating that some customers have been abusing it. out of the new policy, l.l. bean customers will now only have a year to return a product. when we come back, the inspiring story of three women from texas teaming up to make ol
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symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, tiredness, and trouble breathing. stop taking jardiance and call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of ketoacidosis or an allergic reaction. symptoms of an allergic reaction include rash, swelling, and difficulty breathing or swallowing. do not take jardiance if you are on dialysis or have severe kidney problems. other side effects are sudden kidney problems, genital yeast infections, increased bad cholesterol, and urinary tract infections, which may be serious. taking jardiance with a sulfonylurea or insulin may cause low blood sugar. tell your doctor about all the medicines you take and if you have any medical conditions. isn't it time to talk to your doctor about jardiance? absolutely. ask your doctor about jardiance. and get to the heart of what matters.
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♪ finally tonight, from the winter olympics, three women on an unlikely journey from the heat of houston to the cold of pyeongchang to make history as the very first olympic bobsled team from an entire continent. here's rehema ellis. >> reporter: seun adigun has been a runner for as long as she can remember. in 2012 she represented nigeria at the summer olympics never expecting to be back six years later at the winter games. this was your crazy idea. >> i know. i come up with the craziest ideas. but they're crazy to me to even agree to come be on board. >> reporter: her crazy idea? teaming up with engozy
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onwumere and akuoma omeoga to take their speed off the track and into a bobsled. the three texans with nigerian roots quickly became a trifecta of enthusiasm, energy and sheer joy. they set a lofty goal -- to become the first ever african bobsled team in the olympics. nigeria's a country that's not associated with cold, ice or snow. >> right. correct. >> reporter: and living here in houston i don't normally think of a place that's cold and snowy and covered in ice. >> you just got to get really, really creative and resourceful. >> reporter: that's exactly what they did. building a wooden practice sled in seun's garage. to use a local gym every time they practice. and raising money to help fund their olympic dream. but there's been a learning curve. >> have you ever on a road trip and -- that's the kind of
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thing. >> reporter: but they get smashed. >> we're getting smashed. >> i felt like i was kind of getting beat up by like ice and -- what is the sled made out of? >> carbon fiber. >> okay, that. >> am i really ready for this? >> reporter: their families asked the same question. >> my mom's like, bobsled? what is bobsled? >> this is a bobsled. >> reporter: their journey has many parallels to the 1988 jamaican bobsled team immortalized in "cool runnings." and now nigeria has a team, too. >> when people count you out because you're an african country, that's when you got to show them that all it takes is a little will and there's going to be a way. >> becoming role models for young girls. letting people know they can do whatever they put their mind to, that's a win to me. >> reporter: and they say that's even better than a medal. rehema ellis, nbc news, houston.
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>> they're terrific. tonight catch all the olympic ceremony action here on nbc at 8:00 p.m. eastern. that's "nightly news" for this friday night. i'm lester holt reporting from pyeongchang. i'll be here all weekend with the broadcast. thank you for watching an alive to see me. >> what's it like to watch her ski? >> in korea where she's about to make more history. >> lindsey vonn's tears for her late gran dad, don. >> i know that he's going to help me. >> he's going to be wearing a medal. >> count on it. natalie's got shaun white.
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>> coming all the way back from a hard to watch possible career ender to a perfect score. >> shaun white. shaun white! >> oh, how delish is this little baby? scott, which medalist created this beauty. >> lights, camera, "access." right now on "access," lindsey vonn meets the press and breaks down. >> and the olympic flame is lit. the opening ceremony airs tonight on nbc. >> but, scott, the real story is lindsey vonn. she's 33 years old. she is the greatest female skier of all time and having her final olympic games in south korea brings her career full circle. >> it's really hard for me not to cry. i just -- i want so badly to do well for him and i miss him so much. ♪ >> a far cry from her steely game face, lindsey wipeder


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